Here is the story of how I ventured from the straight and narrow to the curvy and wide.
The first 18 years of my life were spent in a small Mennonite community in rural Manitoba, in which Christianity was the name of the game. I attended church weekly and received my high school diploma from the church school across the road. Growing up, Christianity was a give-in for me and I never had significant doubt about its factuality, but it was only at the age of 16 that I really began to take it seriously. At 16, during a negative time in my life, I reached out for God and believed myself to have found him. Prayer and reading the Bible became things I loved to do and my life vastly improved. I chose to be baptised because I believed that Christianity was what I wanted for the rest of my life. In the few years after this I continued to grow as a Christian, looking to God to help me through emotional times and tough decisions and seeking more knowledge of him through reading and conversations with other Christians as well as non-Christians. At 19, I spent my first year studying philosophy at the University of Toronto, where I discovered more and more things that I believed pointed directly to the truth of God and Christianity.
At 20, I was challenged by an unbelieving friend of mine about Christianity. I decided that I would take some time to re-evaluate my beliefs, even though I was quite confident that Christianity was the truth. For a few seemingly eternal days I put intense thought into what I believed and whether I could consider believing something else. The topic that first began to trouble me was the topic of hell. I just couldn’t settle it in my mind that, just because I had chosen to be a Christian, I didn’t have to go to hell while some of my good friends would have to, just because they hadn’t made the same choice. I didn’t know why the particular path I’d chosen for my life was so much better than the ones they’d chosen for themselves.
The trouble I had with the concept of hell led me straight into the core difficulty I had with my Christian belief. I simply could not reconcile it in my mind that I, with my few short moments on this earth and my tiny little human mind, could know that everyone in the world “needs” Jesus. How am I to know that my “truth” is better than the other guy’s “truth?” Who’s to discern which of us is the biased/deceived/ignorant one is? How am I to know that what their parents told them was true while they were growing up is less true than what my parents told me?
I decided that I had made my choice to be a Christian in too hasty a manner. I had not yet given equal consideration to every single world-view out there, which is what I believe would be necessary before one could officially claim that their world-view is the ‘capital T’ truth, but also impossible to do because of the few short moments each person has in the world to occupy their human mind on these topics. That was the end of the road for my Christianity. I just couldn’t reconcile a truth claim of that significance. I just don’t know enough.
Thus began my life as a skeptic (which I will elaborate on in my next post).
That is the extremely shortened form of my story. In future posts, I hope to give more detail to specific topics relating to religion, philosophy, and the world in general.
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